High expectations await the Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving team as they start the Ivy League season this Saturday, Nov. 18. The men’s team will be looking for their third consecutive Ivy League title.
The reigning champions experienced a truly historic 2015-2016 season as they capped their 7-0 regular season record in the Ivy League with a dramatic comeback at the Ivy League Championships. But with a series of great efforts, the Tigers secured their 31st Ivy League title. The foursome of then-junior Julian Mackrel, then-sophomore Ben Schafer, Sandy Bole ‘16, and En-Wei Hu-Van Wright ‘16 came out victorious in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a stunning Ivy League record of 2:52.06. The Princeton squad came out 21.5 points ahead of the Crimson by the last event and was awarded their seventh title in the past eight years.
As the team comes off this historic and emotional season, a lot will be asked of them this year. In fact, one major consideration for the first few weeks will be filling the shoes left behind by ten members of the Class of 2016. “We just graduated a really significant class. They provided a lot of variety and talent to the team,” said junior Corey Okubo, a two-year NCAA qualifier. “A lot of us will be swimming a slightly different schedule than what we are used to. We need to fill in the gaps that the seniors have left.”
Naturally, a lot of pressure will be placed on the fourteen members of the Class of 2020. “Many freshmen are very new to this whole process. We need to make them feel as welcomed as possible, so they can train and perform at their full potential,” Okubo noted.
Co-captain senior Brett Usinger expressed similar opinions on this issue: “The freshmen compose nearly half of our team this year. Although they haven’t been in a high-pressure environment yet, they have been stepping up and showing good potential. We are confident that they will be able to fill many of the gaps left my last year’s seniors.”
Fellow co-captain senior Julian Mackrel added, “And it’s not just up to the freshmen to carry the burden. We have a lot of veterans that know the ropes. Everyone’s always getting faster – we’re also ready to fill in those gaps.”
The women’s team will come back more motivated as they look to recapture the Ivy League crown this season. Despite an impressive 6-1 record in the Ivy League last year, the Crimson were powered by their diving team and surged to first place in the championships. The Tigers, narrowly edged out by the Bulldogs, grabbed an impressive third-place finish.
Although this was not the result the Tigers were hoping for, the Princeton squad had plenty to be proud of as they left the pool. Then-sophomore Lindsay Temple broke a six-year Princeton record, exhilarating the crowd as she won her first Ivy League individual title.
There were standout performances across the board. The freshmen class also asserted themselves, showing their potential for the years to come. In particular, the then-freshman trio of Lindsey Swartz, Kathryn Didion, and Janet Zhao claimed fourth, sixth, and seventh in the 200m breastroke final. The relay team of Temple, Nikki Larson ‘16, Elizabeth McDonald ‘16, and then-sophomore Maddy Veith capped off the race with a great final swim, finishing second place in the 4x100m freestyle relay.
The women’s swimming and diving team have had a long tradition of success and there is little reason to doubt this will continue. The Tigers won their last Ivy League title in 2015 and have never gone more than two years without a title since 2000. Many on the Princeton squad know the joy of success and will be undoubtedly looking to recapture it this season.
However, both teams will be facing stiff competition. On the men’s side, Harvard will be looking to make a comeback to grab the title from the Tigers. “Harvard’s very hungry. We beat them two years in a row now, and they’re really going to give everything they got this year,” said Usinger.
For the women’s team the situation is reversed. The Crimson will be looking to recapture another Ivy League title as the Tigers try to comeback with a victory. In addition, the Bulldogs, who came in second in the Ivies, will also be tough rivals to beat as they handed Princeton their only loss during the regular season.
Yet both teams look eager and prepared to face the challenges to come.
“That’s what makes this sport fun,” added Mackrel. “It wouldn’t be fun if it wasn’t a challenge. Being competitive – that’s what we want.”
This weekend, the Tigers will take on the Big Red and the Quakers at Ithaca in their first Ivy League meet of the season.